Saturday, May 30, 2015

Death before life...

The following is the text of an email (edited)  I sent to a friend, an anthroposophist,  who loaned me George Ritchie's book, Return from Tomorrow: 

Hi....Thanks for loaning me this book. The near-death-experience-movement awakening has been seemingly spearheaded by a Southerner, George Ritchie, and later Raymond Moody, who was also Southern and Christian. Since that beginning, this movement has exploded into the New Age circuit, with a loss of its original Christian focus.

Ritchie's book contained important moments of moral awakening, and this is also something frequently absent in subsequent New Age accounts of after-death experience. For example, note the following passages as he recounts his efforts to integrate his experience into the ongoing path of his life:

~the overcoming of self (“I wondered if we always had to die, some stubborn part of us, before we could see more of Him,” p. 112), 
~the strong sense of purpose to life on earth (“God is busy building a race of men who know how to love,” p. 124) ;
~the awareness of the need for ethics in society (“If we were truly entering the age of atomic power, without knowing the Power that created it, then it was only a matter of time until we destroyed ourselves and our earth as well,” p. 121).

I have to wonder if this afterlife consciousness movement had the potential for a deeper awakening for America which it has somehow failed to attain. The flowering of interest in afterlife experiences in the USA staring in the 1940’s might be loosely compared to the flowering of the Romantic poets in 19th century England. In both cases it seems to me there was the attempt to get away from excessively "objectified" or reductive speech.
What might a true maturation of the afterlife narrative mean?
It seems to me that the potential of this afterlife awareness was well enunciated by Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy in his book, The Christian Future, published in 1946. He is talking about life in America, the polarity of suburb and factory (yes, we actually still had manufacturing back then) and he says that this environment “is perfect for production and education, and impotent for reproduction and creation.”  It is against this background, he says, that “we have to discuss the qualities necessary for creating future communities.” The heart of his message is this:
“…This creation of Future is a highly costly and difficult process. It can be done but it does not happen by itself. The progress made so far as always been a progress by Christians; especially in the natural sciences, progress is the fruit of Christianity. For Christianity is the embodiment of one single truth through the ages: that death precedes birth, that birth is the fruit of death, and that the soul is precisely this power of transforming an end into a beginning by obeying a new name.” (p.10)
George Ritchie’s experience was the true beginning of his life’s deepest purpose. But how can an individual’s discovery of purpose through such an experience be fruitful for the society as a whole? This is the question that awaits America – an America which in 2015 is so bloated with corruption and incompetence that it has become a danger to the entire world. America needs a near-death encounter  to gain the possibility of wisdom. 


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Beyond the Fringe...Not

I picked up a book at the library--Fringe-Ology, by Steve Volk (HarperCollins, 2011). Steve Volk is a Philadelphian and has written and published in local publications. I was curious to see what he had to say.

The subject is the vast incommunicable distance between the followers of hard science and those of spirituality, ESP, after-death communication--the whole "New Age" raft of post-religious searching.

Volk himself seems to be more in the hard science camp, and his book was, to me, too apologetic, as if he were somehow to be banished from the inner circle of bien-pensants because of his openness to certain ideas. There were some bizarre experiences in his childhood home--strange rappings and knockings. The family finally called in a priest; the knockings, in one last dramatic flourish, stopped. There isn't much in the way of research or explanation, nor--if truth be had--real drama.  But the lack of dramatic quality in so much modern writing and literature is a topic for another day-- not the occasion for this brief note. (1)

What sparked this brief note was Volk's account of how quantum physics plays a part in the theory of consciousness. He discusses Stuart Hameroff and Roger Penrose, who came up with something called "orch-OR" or the "orchestrated objective reduction," described in these terms:

" 'The observer effect, in which the wave form is said to 'collapse' into a particular state, is consciousness;   each conscious moment is a collapse.' The Penrose-Hameroff model relates collapse of the wave function/consciousness to fundamental components of the universe--like the properties of space and time. They cannot be explained or reduced because there is nothing to reduce them to."

I could not help thinking that this description sounds like an elaborate, even highly baroque or rococo, detour to get to the fundamentals of human interaction. Those fundamentals are to be found in grammar, not in quantum physics.  It seems to me that a study of Rosenstock-Huessy's writings would help the scientist climb down from his head perch and become aware of his speech, his hands and his feet-- :All language is an attempt to enact the processes of the cosmos always and everywhere," Rosenstock wrote in "How Language Establishes Relations." There's something about our contemporary intellectual culture that keeps coming across as a parody. It's as if people had forgotten something even more basic than the alphabet, like how to say "thank you" or shake hands with somebody.


(1) Indeed. "The greatest temptation of our time is impatience, in its full original meaning: refusal to wait, undergo, suffer. We seem unwilling to pay the price of living with our fellows in creative and profound relationships. From marriage to teaching, from government to handicraft, man's relation to man has become segregated, impatient, non-committal in the machine age. To be non-committal means to keep all relations without important consequences, to rob them of their reproductive, fruit-bearing quality." Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, The Christian Future,1946, 1966, HarperTorchbooks,  p. 19. The lack of dramatic quality in so much modern poetry and singer-songwriters seems to me related.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Pride, Prejudice...and Perfection

I’ve been taking a bit of a vacation recently-- taking a jaunt on one of my periodic Jane Austen love-fests. I watched the 1995 BBC version of  Pride and Prejudice—with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle—surely one of my favorite movies. Then, for good measure, I re-read the book again. I’ve read it many times. My set of Jane Austen books, a Roberts Brothers Edition, 1892, has been a part of my library since 1964—since I was a junior at Concord Academy. I think it was the best thing that happened to me from my boarding school days. At least it was a most memorable, cherished, and never-to-be-parted with addition to my life.

Pride and Prejudice is justly acclaimed an enduring and beloved work of art, an all-but-flawless comedy of manners. There hardly seems to be a word out of place, a character underdeveloped, or a scene too many. I wonder how Miss Jane wrote it. It almost seems to me “received,” as it were, entire, from the spiritual world—from a place where angels  record and converse,  filling  the gaps of human society with their longer views and superior understanding.

I write these words now because, after the movie on DVD, I watched some of the “bonus” material put out by the producers. It was an outstanding production; every character seemed to be true to Austen’s inspiration. Such excellence is rarely to be met with in the world of film. But why, then, did the director remark that the novel is about “sex and money”? Of course it’s about “sex and money.” But so much more! And that gross reduction of the moral dimensions of this work to “sex and money” is a telling symptom of modern materialism. But that such a coarse and rather dismissive judgment  of the work was made by a director who did such an outstanding job with it—such, such are the contradictions of our era.

In this reading I was struck by the forcefulness of Austen’s portrait of what happens when people persevere “in willful self-deception”—as the clergyman, Mr. Collins, is described. The passage occurs just after Mr. Collins has tendered his most unwelcome offer of marriage to Elizabeth. Her decided refusal he interprets as the  “coquetry and affectation of an elegant female.” Elizabeth finally left the room in silence, deigning no more to address a man so literally incapable of hearing.

Another passage relating to willful deception occurs a few pages later, when sister Jane remarks that  she believes that Mr. Bingley’s sister “is incapable of willfully deceiving anyone.” In this case sister Jane was  subsequently to be proved deceived in her “universal goodwill,” as Elizabeth puts it.  But the occasion of Jane’s expression of goodwill leads to Elizabeth’s finally exclaiming that “The more I see of the world the more am I dissatisfied with it; and everyday confirms my belief in the inconsistency of all human character, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense…”

This novel deals with appearances and reality, with social conformity and prestige; with influence and sycophancy;  with careless, immature,  unformed or ill-informed judgments—all the repertory, in fact, of life in  society. It is speech, social speech, that involves questions that might be debated in philosophy – issues of truth, perception, sincerity, cogency.  Only these are not the questions of philosophy but questions involving happiness. If taken and digested in the inward solitude that is the prerequisite for truthfulness,  there can be creative development, fruitfulness. Or if they are not so taken, if there is lacking that inward solitude and self-reflection, there can be misery, moral mistakes, bad outcomes. Elizabeth Bennet, the heroine, is worthy of that title, for she is, in a manner of speaking, a practicing philosopher: she meets with herself in the crossroads of solitude and battles not only for love, but for the truth of love, or the truth in love. Nor will she have love on any other terms. Truly this is a noble purpose.

In our time the “speech of society” has been taken up into the electronic realm—political speech, the speech of corporations, governments, journalists, the “interests.” Two things have fallen away so fully, so silently,  so completely that we are hardly aware of it: the speech on which happiness depends;  and the speech on which truth depends. For the speech of society depends on dialogue, on the inter-communication of persons. Sometimes it may be an imperative form of speech for the sake of action; at other times it may be disinterested for the sake of truth; still at other times the word may be offered like a life preserver to a drowning man.  But the speech of the television is the monotone or the monologue, "speechifying"-- the speaker versus the mass or the mob. It discourages dialogue if not makes it impossible. 

We have exchanged dialogue, the speech of society, the speech of the village, for the speech of fate. It is thus that modern societies, in periodic intervals, go marching into disaster. To read Pride and Prejudice is to immerse oneself in living speech. For us today this is rather a novelty. That this should be the case is a telling--or is it a tolling?--commentary on our society. But it does allow us a new outlook on the form of the novel--that is, not only the telling of a story but as an embodiment of living speech.    

                                  Piano music for Pride and Prejudice

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Book Review

Update February 11, 2016: "What a lost pleasure it is in our indispensable nation to be in the presence of someone who thinks, acts and speaks out of conscience and conviction. Even better, these were precisely McGovern’s topics that day three years back: The necessity of careful thought, of honoring one’s inner voice, of acting out of an idea of what is right without regard to success or failure, the win-or-lose of life." From Patrick Smith's Feb. 7 article in Salon on Ray McGovern:
[title]  “Intelligent people know that the empire is on the downhill”: A veteran CIA agent spills the goods on the Deep State and our foreign policy nightmares. Recommended.                            

Book Review: Time No Longer: Americans after the American Century
Patrick L. Smith
Yale, 2013

This is the book we have all been waiting forfor years and years. The book that articulates our deepest misgivings about this country, this nation, the United States, and yet does not cancel hope… indeed, offers us  hope—if we will but accept ourselves as historical beings who live in time. And with this hope the work of Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy can be brought forward in the most  natural way possible, seamlessly, as it were, to the top of the heap. The grammatical method, the Cross of Reality, the creation of the future: these deeper meanings from the Rosenstockian language seem already to belong to Patrick Smith’s vocabulary, as if he understood without knowing. This is an experience I too have had, in discovering Rosenstock’s work. But it seems that the discovery, or rather of the mating of the knowing with the understanding, belongs to a particular historical moment and an urgent historical task. This moment and this task is the subject of Patrick’s Smith’s book.

Patrick Smith is a journalist of high repute. He lived in Asia for about eight years, reporting from there, and has published five books. He writes articles for and other publications—articles distinguished by their truthfulness and good sense, compared to the mendacious journalism we have today from the corporate and government-fed media outlets. For example, the New York Times – which Patrick Smith  assailed in his Feb. 18 article—“Our embarrassing servile media: does the New York Times just print everything the government tells it? [1]

Time No Longer  in the largest sense explores the difference between myth and history. In a more particular sense it is dedicated to digging up  the myth of “American exceptionalism” and uprooting it—root and branch. And there is “time no longer”—the title may or may not be intentionally reminiscent of  the Book of Revelation—because the decision facing us in America is whether to pretend to go on living in myth or to accept ourselves as living in history, accepting the responsibilities that living in history entails and overcoming our “cruelty of innocence,” as Nietzsche put it. 

“American exceptionalism” is the story that began with a 1630 sermon of John Winthrop-- the  “City upon a Hill.” It is now, says Smith,  an “exhausted narrative.”   It depicts a land immune from time, and there never is  or was such a place: “exceptionalism is a national impediment America can no longer afford.”  It’s an imaginary past, and an imaginary past “requires the unceasing production of an imaginary present.”   The four essays in this book—“History Without Memory,” “A Culture of Representation,” “Cold War Man,” and “Time and Time Again”—return again and again to the theme of what time and being modern mean.  “Time is the medium of all human encounters”  says Patrick Smith, and this is as good as anything found in the pages of Rosenstock-Huessy. For Americans today,  too caught up with the latest techno-fads, the statement that “To be modern one must think historically”  should be the beginning of a new curriculum in social studies,  a field which, Smith says, divorced itself from history and thus became “sterilized.”[2]   Smith does not cite John Lukacs in this work, but surely Lukacs’ summary in his Historical Consciousness, Or the Remembered Past (1968) would be appropriate  here: “I believe that the most important developments in our civilization during the last three or four centuries include not only applications of the scientific method but also the growth of a historical consciousness; and that while we may have exaggerated the importance of the former we have not yet understood sufficiently the implications of the latter.”

Smith often remarks the strange fact that while America is a modern society, dedicated to the furtherance and works of science and belief in progress, it nevertheless possesses a strong 17th and 18th century heritage in the form of Protestant evangelism and millenarian thinking.[3] It was as if the new nation were to be an object of belief,   a kind of religion. The new republic erected many barriers against time – as well as against unbelief or dissent.  Confusing  history and myth  leads to narcissism.[4] Nobody else matters; there is no point in learning about other peoples, societies, traditions. But history that passes into myth becomes a history without memory, meaning that “it is unsusceptible to reinterpretation or change from one generation to the next. It is fixed…it leaves those producing it and living by it in a certain state of immobility. They are unable to think anew or to imagine a future that is different from the present or the past.” In order to have continuity there has to be change, a break, re-imagining, dissolution and  renewal--  death and  new life. What is so often missing in this mythologizing of history, says Smith, is “the human agency, and hence a true narrative.”

So, if society and the nation and the history we are living through is something that “just happens” and goes humming along, why worry to renew and repair its institutions, infrastructure, society’s self-understanding? The height of complacency was reached a few years ago when I read, perhaps in a neoconservative publication, that Americans didn’t really have to worry about the quality of our leaders because the institutions we received from the Founders were just so great. How easy it is to spare oneself the confrontation with conscience!

But how great the cost: and this is what Smith’s book is about. In his chapter on the Cold War he has an arresting image: America “spent 50 years staring at its own reflection.”   There was the “Cold War silence”: the inability to speak; ignorance and inflexibility in thinking; the persistence of myths. It was the beginning of the National Security state, when “Fear would be transformed from an individual emotion into a social condition.” Few people understood the relationship between science and security better than John Dewey, whose book The Quest for Certainty was “a vigorous defense of the scientific ‘arts.’” (Smith, p. 93)  Rosenstock-Huessy also  had a few words to say about John Dewey and his"... scientific silently functioning all inclusive cooperative impersonal painless order, an order in which nothing vital has to be settled by force…”
--  summarizing it as follows: "But it borders on social irresponsibility to take the timberwork of society, the beams of authority, decision, faith, love, worship, for granted while everywhere those beams crack.” [5] I feel sure that Patrick Smith would be in accord with this judgment. Everything he says in this book is a call for us to break out of the “unsayable myth” that holds American life in its icy grip. “Gods that age become demons,” I think this was from Strindberg. Never has this been more true than the present.

Although I have issues with Smith’s final chapter “Time and Time Again,” – it deals with the September 11th event – I can only agree that  it signified the end of the American Century. Smith describes the event as a “collision with history… a war between those dedicated to sustaining sacred time and national myth and those attempting to think historically and place events in a historical context such that Americans could achieve an understanding of them.” This chapter also contains interesting reflections about the increasing atomization of American life, the “de-contextualization”  which tears things out of their social and historical nexus. “To see only individuals in the foreground is to see with a mythologically defined consciousness—without context.” Another word would be—idiotic. The word ‘idiotes’ comes from the Greek, meaning private, individual—that which was not a part of the polis, the city, could not be considered  human in the full sense. It is interesting that, for us, the word has come to signify a low intelligence.[6]

Our most important, urgent task, our imperative, is to achieve the condition of history with memory. This means holding ourselves and others accountable for acts. In no other manner can we be considered responsible; in no other manner would we be able to create future—in contrast to just letting things happen. “Under no circumstances is man a spectator of history,” thunders Rosenstock-Huessy in The Christian Future (83). “We can now see why man’s life must be neither linear nor spiral but crucial.” (ibid) And “things happen not by living but by birth and death. ‘Living’ is but one half of life, the repetitive and predictable part. The other half is the agonizing creation and the creative agony of dying and being born.” (ibid, p. 57) For as Rosenstock again reminds us, “the sloughing off of old stages and the insistence on new ones distinguishes life from mechanism.” (ibid, p. 139) With politics in America reduced to mere spectacle, our social order resembles a mechanism punctuated by outbursts of  violence, leaps of passion that have no fathers and no children, so to speak—solo acts of anarchy.   

Whether or not Patrick Smith considers himself Christian is a question of minor importance. What is significant in Time No Longer is that he enunciates a view and a call for history that reveals the true meaning of Christianity – a true meaning long eviscerated by church history, sectarian squabbles and popular evangelisms. To see ourselves as others see us: this is the imperative for America to throw off, finally, the mythological spectacles that have led us to take a false view of ourselves and our place in the world. Only then can we move forward with purpose toward the creation of future.

[2] He adds: “And the absence of history—an absence that has marked off American social sciences from Europe’s ever since—would allow American social scientists to serve the exceptionalist mission.” p. 101. In other words, the social sciences in America became a kind of propaganda ministry.

[3] “America was a modern nation with features of a premodern society prominent within it. This produced an identifiably American personality. Americans were unable to understand events but by interpretation, blind to history’s course, deaf to the voices of others.” p. 133.

[4] “An inability to change is symptomatic of a people who consider themselves chosen and who cannot surrender their chosenness.” p. 193

[5] Rosenstock-Huessy, The Christian Future, p. 53.

[6] Rosenstock-Huessy expresses a kindred idea when he says the great temptation of our time is impatience: refusal to wait, undergo, suffer. “To be non-committal means to keep all relations without important consequences, to rob them of their reproductive, fruit-bearing quality.” The Christian Future, p. 19.  Historically grounded people engage in the labor of building a viable political order; wounded birds flock to New Age healers and preachers who promise quick salvation. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Four Rivers of Speech

         Cover design for Instead of Eyes (1979)
                                             Poems on biblical themes

In his book,  The Fruit of Lips, Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy declares that “We are not studying the history either of the Church or of the world. We are laying foundations for a history of the human spirit.”

Jesus Christ unifies this history, and The Fruit of Lips is an essay that explores the four different forms of speech current in the ancient world—the four forms which Jesus, as it were, exploded into light and made into a new era. “He halted the mere flow of talkative, news-mongering, mystical or practical humanity… He saw that, in separation, they were evil and poisonous even though in themselves they were highly elaborate and efficient. Jesus did not say that poetry or magic or ritual or prophecy were not excellent. He knew that they were and how well he knew, he proved by his creative inventiveness of new ritual, his poetical genius of the parable, his effortless superiority to obsessions and demons, his prophetic insight into the future of the world’s history. But with all these four rivers of speech filled to the brim, he emptied himself of all of them. He, the harvest of all times, decided to change into the seed of a future completely protected against mere time…” (p. 117, Pickwick Publications,  2008)

In the spirit—that is, of the Holy Ghost—“The very meaning of the term Holy Ghost is lost if we forget that the Holy Ghost opens the spirits of the different times to each other” (p. 31) –I would like to revisit the  mythical image of the land before time, the garden of Eden that was surrounded by four rivers.  In my poem, “Four Rivers in Eden,” the rivers appropriately take on the characteristics of language, of speech. I say, “appropriately,” yet  I had never heard of Rosenstock-Huessy when, back in 1978-79, I wrote this poem, the first in self-published collection of poems on Biblical themes, Instead of Eyes. But I am surprised now, some 35 years later, to see how this poem is infused with the Rosenstockian spirit.

The motto of this poetry collections comes from Numbers 10:31—“Leave us not, I pray thee: forasmuch as thou knowest how we are to encamp in the wilderness, and thou mayest be to us instead of eyes.”


                        FOUR RIVERS IN EDEN

                        Eden was a desert,
                        a desert far and wide --
                        it made a ghostly sea
                        and a ghostly tide.

To the east thereof a garden,
bounded by rivers four.
Pison struck its head of gold;
Gihon’s mouth was black;
away from Hiddekel ran the sun
to bathe his eye at Euphrates’ back.

Over the sands the rolls of death
beat heavily and subsided:
holding a day against the world
that had no eyes, where nothing was.
The four rivers arched and splashed,
and made unto a door:
hand to foot, and foot to thigh,
it was green and blue and mother-of-pearl;
and the Lord God stood before.

Clouds rumbled and the rain;
and in the milk there swam
the seed of woman and of man.
The Lord God put it in the earth
and blew the clouds to let him pass.
Without, the desert trembled.
Cascades of sunshine spilled through glass.

Two trees opened from a single trunk,
two trees, of knowledge and of life.
Their shadows danced, and the boughs,
where golden birds beamed about and sang,
and rained singing unto the golden grass.
Swayed them whole, elders than the sea
whose wrinkled sleeves whorled the shells
and made them murmur dreams; aye, they grew,
waking and sleeping, and aged no more than dew,
while ever music breathed, and bells;
the milk of stars dripped upon the night,
and by day angels glanced among the bees.
The fruits ripened in the springing leaves,
and the Lord God stood and watched,
for he was pleased.

            The two trees stood together
            but from a single heart;
            one breathed in, the other out;
            one made seed, the other fruit
            that loosed itself from the crown
            and fell with a tiny plashing sound,
            like a little rain finely misted.

One evening at the twilight
The serpent coiled himself upon the roots.
Rings of fire glittered round his navel,
from his eyes gleamed decay of light.
For a long while he wrapped himself around,
and gazed, and meditated.
The night passed before;
his mind divided;
and still he gazed with eyes unclosed,
staring at the tree-bole, whose leaves
beneath his gaze twittered like birds
and at last grew still.
Tighter and tighter he wound around
the roots, until the stars
began dropping off the world
into a silver plate. “Ye are as gods!”
he hissed: the lightning broke;
the crack shuddered through the trunk;
the limbs dismayed flailed at the air
but grasped at only moonlight: for white
and manacled rose the moon,
for she carried with her the soul of day,
but hid the body, as in a cave.
The man and woman were afraid.
A cool breeze was blowing in from Eden,
and they felt themselves and felt of cold.
In a sweat of haste unto their skin
green covers made them from the figs.
For night had broken, and now dawn
burst wide the heavens, and overflowed;
blood and earth were they, and earth and blood,
and the rivers burst, and in the flood
the Lord God came in.

Crouched the two with shining eyes,
and like an after-rain the worlds wept
upon the ruined trees. The Lord God
showed them what silence was,
for he broke the world into a word
and silently gave them bread,
a crust of the work he had made.
That day the garden was all a-flame
when fell the hosts of Cherubim
like a great speech of birds.
But the man could not remember
their scorching words, and the woman
hid herself from them.
It was the Last Day,
the first of many days.

The Lord God led them silently without;
they saw the desert stretching every way.
The man covered up his eyes and quaked,
and the woman, glancing back,
saw a little ripple in the sand.
She then looked upon her husband’s face
and woke unto herself from the dream;
and he, seeing the countenance of Eve,
beheld the trees with Cherubim.

            And in that seeing of each other
            the Lord God closed a little way their wounds;
            and when they spoke they did remember
            four rivers, and breached them into syllables,
            in every word they tasted on their tongues.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Theft of the Future

“The most significant characteristic of modern civilization is the sacrifice of the future for the present, and all the power of science has been prostituted to this purpose.” William James.   (Quoted as motto at the head of Part Two of Rosenstock’s The Christian Future.)
About seven years ago I self-published through a whimsical novel on a serious subject. Called After the Crash: An Essay-Novel of the Post-Hydrocarbon Age, the novel’s plot and characters were footnoted by commentary from energy, peak-oil, and others sources from philosophy and social studies. This idea of the novel as fiction-illustrating-scholarship (or scholarship-illustrating-fiction) had not, to my knowledge ever been done in quite that form before.

After the Crash is a fun read. Even now I enjoy re-reading parts of it, looking back on this little confection which came piping down the corridors of my mind in its fresh and virginal state. The novel took about two months to write, at about the pace of a chapter a day. Preparation is needed for the receptivity to inspiration. Like Rosenstock-Huessy, I rather look down on the process of revision. A bit of revision is sometimes needed, of course.  But there are two great dangers of revision and rewriting: self-importance and over-intellectualization.

Inspiration works with the principle that “less is more.” It gives a little to the thirsting soul, and  because it doesn’t overdo it, leaves room for future development. Inspiration is similar to homeopathy, in which a small quantity of substance is taken and, through a process of rhythmical shaking or sucussion,  forces within the substance are liberated.  A mind must be at a sufficient height of tension and strength for inspiration to be possible. This does not mean that an inspiration will happen—only that it might.

I think now, looking back, that the “peak oil” theme was close but not quite accurate to the true theme. That true theme is becoming apparent day by day: we in the West are using up our future at an alarming rate. Indeed, it is quite burned out, and the extraordinary dishonesty of our press in the last eight years is symptomatic of a people that has lost its sense for history. The important thing that Rosenstock-Huessy says in his book, The Christian Future, is that the future is not something that “just happens.” It has to be created:

“…things happen not by living but by birth and death. ‘Living’ is but one half of life, the repetitive and predictable part. The other half is the agonizing creation and the creative agony of dying and being born.”

What is the primary way that we “die to ourselves” in the course of daily living? Is it not through telling the truth?­­— and the words sincerity, honesty, probity, integrity, honorableness, all come close to the same meaning.   

Is not the value for truth the basis of Western philosophy, the witness of truth the basis of Christianity, the search for truth the basis of science? These are the three great pillars of the West upon which the idea of the “freedom of the press” was erected, and it is upon the three pillars that the West owes all of its progress and dynamism. The fourth entity—freedom of the press—has not always been true to its founding principles. But it nevertheless maintained some sort of good reputation until …until a few years ago. With 9/11, with the Iraq War, and now with the demonization of Russia and subversion of the Ukraine carried out by Washington, the lies and falsehoods of the  New York Times, Washington Post, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, The London Times,  and all their acolytes and followers and imitators  have become standard…de rigueur…normal operating procedure….

Last week, following upon the dismissal of Brian Williams, three journalists died: Bob SimonDavid Carr (and see also)  and Ned Colt 

One of the websites I consult has speculated that these journalists were “offed” because they had taken steps to obtain Russian satellite imagery proving that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by members of the U.S. government. Whether or not this theory is true I cannot say. But it does appear to me that the 9/11 hoax will not carry water much longer, and that possibly this is the reason for the American aggression against Russia.

For only truth makes possible the future. We Americans have been consenting to lies for so long that we no longer know how to act in a responsible manner. For action implies accountability, and we have no accountability. Everything the government touches—from “health care” to “education,” from “foreign policy” to “managing” the national budget, from marriage and sexuality, manners and employment, is reeling from hubris, incompetence, short-sightedness and folly. 

Can’t we do anything right? When will we grow up? Where is the story, not of American “exceptionalism,” but of Americans deciding to put away their narcissistic fantasies and join the human race?

When will we die to ourselves... and --finally-- start to tell the truth?